Whether to have a college football playoff may be the most intensely debated topic among Bowl Championship Series teams, but the biggest concern to coaches in BCS circles deals with the "A" word.
"We make it clear to our players that you don't have to have a kindergarten education to be an agent. Most of them are not very good, but there are a few that are really good at what they do."
Earlier this year, several players from Southeastern Conference schools were suspended for taking money, or material items, from agents. Then in this past week's Sports Illustrated, agent Josh Luchs admitted to having paid more than 30 players in the early- to mid-1990s.
When it comes to agents and today's student-athlete, the most basic rules are these:
• Student-athletes can have contact with advisers/agents, even during the season.
• These individuals can not be a part of any negotiations.
• Student-athletes are not allowed any illegal benefits – free meals, any merchandise (clothing, to jewelry, to cars), attending lavish parties, etc.
• Contracts with agents cannot be signed. At K-State, Snyder offers an educational session for players and their parents each year. This usually includes Snyder, an assistant AD, plus individuals from the business and law fields conducting an interview with agents that want to be involved with the Wildcat players.
"We also run checks with the NFL and the players association to determine the background of some of the individuals that show an interest in our youngsters," said Snyder. "It's our preference that when one of our players is contacted by an outside source that they share with them that at the end of the season they would certainly be willing to visit with them. If agents persist in the calls to one of our players, that will likely exclude them from the possibility working with one of our athletes." No matter how much Snyder tries to control the outside influences, he admits, "You can't stop the onslaught."
Daniel Thomas, who led the Big 12 in rushing last year, started receiving calls at his apartment starting at mid-season last year.
While saying the calls were flattering at the beginning, he soon directed all contacts to his parents. By the end of the season, agents were telling the Thomas family that their son would likely be drafted in the second or third round, and that he should strongly consider leaving school early.
"These kinds of things can cause a distraction to a youngster from the task at hand," said Snyder. "There are good agents, but those are the ones who understand that there's a right place and a right time for discussions. During the season there is not one thing that an agent can do to get a player into the NFL.
Getting to the NFL is based on performance. There is nothing an agent can do in October or November to help a young man in the draft.
"When an agent contacts a player early and continues to be a pest, that sends a message of dishonesty,"
Snyder continued. "If someone is directly going against the rules of our program, what's to keep them from being dishonest with the youngster he's trying to sign?" The Wildcat coach added, "There are 5,000 agents out there, and there are no requirements to be an agent. There are a lot of them out there with no credibility."
Alabama coach Lou Saban went as far as to compare an agent's behavior to that of a "pimp." Florida coach Urban Meyer added, "It's an epidemic right now," he said. "It's always been there, but I think we've reached a point where the magnitude of college football is really overwhelming. We've really got to keep an eye on that."
Taking a stance on the issue from the Big 12 Conference, commissioner Dan Beebe offered this solution to ESPN.com: "Let agents have contracts with players and the schools. Those contracts would have liquidated damages clause, where it would cost the agent $1 million or $2 million if they did anything that made the player ineligible. The ethical guys will come out of it in better shape by putting sunshine on this.
You'll promote the agents who want to do it the right way.''